Asbanr valley: life in a naturalist wonderland

A view of one of the villages in Asbanr valley, Lower Dir district.
A view of one of the villages in Asbanr valley, Lower Dir district.

Muhammad Shahid

ASBANR VALLEY, Lower Dir: As the sunrays fall on the green hills in Asbanr valley of Lower Dir district, the wheel of life begins turning gradually, with children on way to schools, farmers to their fields and so on.

Aslam, about 17, has the knack of walking through an ever-flowing stream in the valley, amid lush green forests and towering hills.

Aslam has given up schooling at a tender age when he was a student of class-VIII, and so are most of the youth in the valley.

“Take to the left; be careful, your feet may slip on the wet rocks of the Khwar (stream),” he says jumping from one stone to another.

Most of schoolchildren give up schooling in the valley because they have to either go abroad to earn or manage affairs of the house at their village.

For around 40,000 souls of this naturalist wonderland, life is as simple as pie: getting up at the crack of dawn, going to the fields, running errandes and getting into a peaceful sleep after daylong activities.

Besides their subsistence farming, scores of families also rely on the overseas earning as they own small lands that cannot earn them adequate profits. The agricultural produce are mostly wheat, rice, maize and vegetables.

Asbanr valley, part of Chakdara tehsil of Lower Dir district, is around 37 kilometres from Malakand.

It is the border area between Lower Dir and Swat districts. Swat and Lower Dir headquarters Timergara are located on its eastern and western sides, while the high mountains of Upper Dir are located in its north and Chakdara in its south.

The valley houses several villages including Shorshing, Butt Qilla, Abbeshah, Guli Bagh, Kashmir Dherai, Bamboli, Qilla Shah, Banda Shah, Kumbar, Hayatabad, etc. Having an area of almost 120 square kilometres, the valley is home to a population of around 40,000 individuals.

But it requires perseverance to travel to the valley due to the rough patch as the area lacks metallic roads. Though the valley is just 15 kilometres from the main Chakdarra bazaar, the travel up to main Asbanr valley takes almost two hours due to the zigzag and rough route that has several bends and slopes.

However, upon reaching the place, one is amazed to see the beauty of nature in the valley and forgets the difficulties suffered on the way. Though locals live a tough life, the fact remains that the valley is a magnet for tourists.

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